Lohri is a popular winter time Punjabi folk festival, celebrated primarily by Sikhs and Hindus from the Punjab region of Indian subcontinent.He significance and legends about the Lohri festival are many and these link the festival to the Punjab region. Many people believe the festival commemorates the passing of the winter solstice. Lohri marks the end of winter season, and is a traditional welcome of longer days and sun's journey to the northern hemisphere by Sikhs and Hindus in the northern regions of the Indian subcontinent. It is observed the night before Makar Sankranti, also known as Maghi, and according to the solar part of the lunisolar Bikrami calendar and typically falls about the same date every year January 13.
Lohri is an official gazetted holiday in the state of Punjab India, where the festival is celebrated by Sikhs, Hindus, Muslims and Christians,but it is not a holiday in Punjab PakistaK. It is, however, observed by Sikhs and some Punjabi Muslims and Christians in Pakistan as well.
Preparation to celebrate Lohri begins way before the actual festival day. Right through the winter days, village women and children collect dry twigs and branches to make a huge bonfire on the day of Lohri-the bigger the better.On the day of the festival, with the setting of the sun, the bonfire is lit with people singing and dancing to the tune of Lohri songs.The munching of seasonal goodies like popcorn, reori, peanuts and sugar cane forms an integral part of the celebration. Fistfuls of these goodies also find their way into the fire, as an offering to the Sun God, the giver of all life.Lohri is primarily the harvest festival of the Punjabis. This festival denotes the harvesting of the Rabi crops and hence all the farmers get together in order to thank god for giving them such a wonderful harvest.
The rituals related to Lohri symbolize the attachment of the people with Mother Nature.
A few days before the festival, youngsters get together in groups and go round their localities singing folk songs.
Doing this they also collect firewood and money for the bonfire that is scheduled on the night of Lohri. On the special day, offerings of phulley (popcorn), moongphali (peanuts) and rewri (a sweet delicacy made out of jaggery and sesame seed) are offered to the fire.
The men and women go round the fire and bow before it in reverence. Lohri holds special importance when there is a special occasion in the family like marriage or childbirth.
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